En­cour­age dig­i­tal in­tel­li­gence at work to drive suc­cess

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - BUSINESS BY BIDS - By Makarand Khatavkar

It is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing ev­i­dent that digi­ti­sa­tion will con­tinue to trans­form work­place and cre­ate value in more ways than was imag­in­able in the past. These un­prece­dented changes de­mand an en­tirely new set of com­pe­ten­cies that are linked to emerg­ing pat­terns of work.

The first pat­tern that has emerged is that ‘Ev­ery pro­fes­sional is a dig­i­tal pro­fes­sional’. Ir­re­spec­tive of one’s do­main, an em­ployee must have an ex­pan­sive un­der­stand­ing of how dig­i­tal will im­pact his/her area of work, work de­sign, ex­pec­ta­tions and re­sults. Knowl­edge of the im­pact of new tech­nolo­gies, new work pat­terns and emer- ging dis­rup­tions will be cru­cial. Dig­i­tal in­tel­li­gence is a ba­sic sur­vival skill that all pro­fes­sion­als must build.

The use of new tech­nolo­gies such as ro­bot­ics, AI de­vices, ma­chine learn­ing, and wear­able tech­nolo­gies will dom­i­nate new work ethos. There are al­ready more than a few ex­am­ples of al­liances be­ing forged be­tween men and ma­chines. In bank­ing for ex­am­ple, some trans­ac­tional and back-end op­er­a­tional jobs are get­ting digi­tised, im­prov­ing the man-ma­chine in­ter­face. New age pro­fes­sion­als will have to part­ner with in­tel­li­gent ma­chines on the one hand, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously col­lab­o­rat­ing with hu­mans.

As an ex­ten­sion of the above, dig­i­tal age pro­fes­sion­als will have to demon­strate nim­ble­ness, adapt­abil­ity and change man­age­ment as im­por­tant com­pe­ten­cies. Change man­age­ment will never go out of fash­ion as a key sur­vival tool. Adapt­ing to chaotic changes driven by dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion will put con­sid­er­able de­mands on peo­ple. These de­mands will be largely be­havioural and some of the key sought-af­ter qual­i­ties will be adapt­abil­ity, flex­i­bil­ity and agility.

Changes in busi­ness will be dot­ted with fran­tic speed, rapid dis­rup­tion and a re­sul­tant fo­cus on the short term. Man­agers will in­creas­ingly face sit­u­a­tions full of un­cer­tain- ty, am­bi­gu­ity and un­ex­pected dis­rup­tions. There won’t be any prece­dents or tried-&tested so­lu­tions. To make sense of a fluid busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, both in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions must de­velop the abil­ity to per­pet­u­ally ex­per­i­ment. Set­ting up small but pur­pose­ful ex­per­i­ments will be an im­por­tant skill. Con­trolled ex­per­i­ments is pos­si­bly the only tool that will be avail­able to us to make sense of the chang­ing dig­i­tal world.

In such a mi­lieu, only per­pet­ual learn­ers will sur­vive. Learn­ing to learn will no longer be a mere com­pe­tency but an es­sen­tial life skill. A large part of learn­ing will be self-driven and self-man­aged. Learn­ing in fu­ture will come from a va­ri­ety of un­con­ven­tional sources such as un­re­lated in­dus­tries, dis­rup­tions, young men­tors, failed ex­per­i­ments, pur­pose­ful sab­bat­i­cals, dis­grun­tled cus­tomers and even mind­ful­ness.

Lastly, lead­er­ship skills will still en­joy or­gan­i­sa­tional premium. In my opin­ion, the best nar­ra­tive of lead­er­ship comes from a renowned his­to­rian Arnold Toyn­bee, who in­tro­duced the con­cept of “chal­lenge and re­sponse” to ex­plain the rise and fall of civil­i­sa­tions. I strongly be­lieve that lead­er­ship is no dif­fer­ent. How we re­spond to fu­ture chal­lenges will shape our des­tinies.

Fi­nally, while I am ex­cited about the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion and daz­zling tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments, I also strongly be­lieve that AI is far from demon­strat­ing and em­u­lat­ing the four hu­man en­dow­ments — self-aware­ness, imag­i­na­tion, con­science and in­de­pen­dent will —pro­posed by Stephen Covey in his best­selling book “7 Habits of Highly Ef­fec­tive Peo­ple”. “These four en- dow­ments give us the ul­ti­mate hu­man free­dom — the power to choose, to re­spond and to change,” Covey rea­sons. These ca­pa­bil­i­ties will be the big­gest dif­fer­en­tia­tors be­tween men and ma­chines. The au­thor is group head – HR, Ko­tak Mahin­dra Bank. All views are per­sonal

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